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Islands and their secrets: Author of intriguing novels booked for Library session

On July 14 at 7 p.m., please join the Shelter Island Public Library in warmly welcoming back bestselling author Barbara Josselsohn for a Friday Night Dialogue discussion of her novel, “Secrets of the Italian Island,” the first book in her new, sweeping World War II series.

Ms. Josselsohn spent last summer on the North Fork writing the novel, her first work of historical fiction, which is set partly in present-day Long Island and partly in Italy during the darkest days of World War II — and Shelter Island plays an important role in the story.

“I am a Long Island girl at heart,” Ms. Josselsohn, who now lives in Westchester, said, “and Shelter Island has held a special allure since an excursion my senior class made there after graduation from Syosset High School.”

Her novel’s heroines, a grandmother/granddaughter pair, venture across every year on the ferry to bike and hike in nature and, on one occasion, the key to unlocking a grave family secret is inadvertently revealed.

Long an avid fan of historical fiction, Ms. Josselsohn finds the process of conjuring a world that accurately conveys a place in a time past to be very exciting.

“Virtually every sentence requires tracking down details,” she said, “For example, determining the kind of pen a character might have used to write a letter in 1943 feels relevant.”

Moving from research to imagining and back again, the author unfurls a deeply human story — of grief, longing and fateful mistakes — all set in the context of the consequential events referred to as “history.”

She is currently at work on the second book in the series, The Lost Gift to the Italian Island, which is scheduled for release in December 2023 and preorders are brisk.

“I really look forward to returning to the wonderful Shelter Island Library and reconnecting with what is a very special community of readers,” Ms. Josselsohn said.

Please don’t miss this opportunity to spend an hour in-person at the library with the award-winning author whose previous books include “The Lilac House,” “The Cranberry Inn,” “The Lily Garden,” “The Bluebell Girls,” and “The Last Dreamer.”

A teacher of creative writing at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College and Westport Writers Workshop, among other venues, Ms. Josselsohn is also a gifted speaker.

Curiosity piqued? You can borrow “Secrets of the Italian Island” in advance from the library or purchase an autographed copy after the program by cash, check or Venmo.

One reviewer describes the book as “un-put-down-able!”

Please register for the Friday Night Dialogues Program with Barbara Josselsohn on July 14 by visiting the events calendar on the library’s website at silibrary.org. For further information or assistance, contact Jessica Montgomery via email at [email protected] or by phone at 631-749-0042. All library programs are free to the public; however, donations are gratefully accepted.

Next Up: On July 21 at 7 p.m., the library will host a special event celebrating the life and work of beloved folk musician, environmentalist and social activist Pete Seeger.